October 7, 2014
JERRY WAS DEALING AND THE BAND ROCKED A FULL HOUSE
I have to believe 12-28-91 is one of the last hands-down great shows the band ever threw down-- and I just gotta rave about it. I notice the only nit-picky "yeah, but" musical comments come from IA reviewers who clearly were not fortunate enough to be in the house that night, so let me flesh it out a bit. "It" being an amazing evening that even a musical bump or two here and there can't diminish.
The Saturday Night opener was a heavenly sign that it wasn't just going to be just one more-- and the transition halfway through the song to (a high-octane killer) "Jackstraw", raggedly weird, a function of the tempo and key changes, showed the band was putting some thought and extra effort into the evening's entertainment. And what did Bob "the more we plan, the more we mess up" Weir do next? He blew his "Hurts my ears/burns my eyes" lyric, only to finally find his voice with "Might as well be me". The place was howling at him with (loving) glee, and Jerry later stuck it to Bob with "Uncle John's Band" (the starting point of the real second set magic and madness). The crowd was screaming and pointing at the Bobster when the UJB "How does the song go" lyric arrived -- and Bob hung his head in exaggerated, semi-mock shame.
It was priceless. As was the band organically arriving at "The Same Thing". There was a handful of there-from-the-beginning, David Crosby-lookalike old hippie types at the rail, doing mad five-foot vertical leaps and fist pumps at hearing TST again, but most of us just sat there clueless, mouths agape and completely spellbound, as the 20K seat Coliseum Arena shrank to a smoky little blues club and the band got down and dirty. Jerry's SOTM "Be with yous" were spine-tinglingly heart-felt and insane-- how could he wail like that, so high up? The easy-going but taut Throwing Stones was the perfect cool down follow-up, then...? "Saturday Night"? -- you could sense the momentary confusion throughout the crowd -- so much sh*t had gone down, we'd all forgotten -- the thought process was along the lines of WTF?-Huh?-Wait, didn't they play that?-Oh, oh, oh, man, they're picking it up in the middle and tying the whole night up with it! Oh-- OH!!! And the madness just grew and grew and grew and climbed the steps Duh-Duh-Duh-Duh-Duh BOOM! HEY ANOTHER SATURDAY NIGHT! The roof came OFF the place. People were losing it left and right -- minds were blown and the joy was everywhere, like it would be the following Spring at RFK with the return of "Casey Jones" and a year later at Compton Terrace with "Here Comes Sunshine"--and the cheering RAGED straight through to the band returning for the "U.S. Blues" encore. Jerry had a huge take that, critics, sh*t-eating grin on his face as he belted out the "Son of a gun, better change your act!" line. What else do you need? We just laid it down for you! Go home! You're welcome!
I said in the title that Jerry was dealing, and he was -- lyrical cards for a Saturday night game. Dire Wolf, Loser, Deal, Foolish Heart. His playing was screaming and swooping, hot and tasty, and he was in fine voice. Phil ROMPED (Minglewood!) all night long-- Vinny was rollicking and PERFECT (well, except for the extra "Wait until" oops in that hot "Deal") -- Mickey and Billy BANGED and DROVE IT (UJB!) -- and Bob was the glue and The Mad Santa -- HA! -- who came up with the Let's-wrap-up-this-Saturday-night-after-Christmas-gift-with-a-"Saturday Night"-bow idea. Man.
I love the "matrix" version here at IA, to my mind it best captures the whole feel, and I apologize for cross-posting this novel with too many CAPS!!! to all the versions, but I wanted to share the joy with everyone who stumbles onto any one of these fine recordings. It's truly a blessing to have been there, and another one to have the music to last until it's Black Muddy River time. Nit-pickers be gone!
12-28-91. To quote the raging football coach Dennis Green, listening to this show is proof that when it comes to the Grateful Dead, "THEY ARE WHO WE THOUGHT THEY WERE!"